Democrats to attack new ‘secret science’ proposal

Source: By Kelsey Brugger, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will this week examine EPA’s latest proposal to limit scientific research in rulemaking, an elusive plan that has morphed in the 18 months since it was unveiled.

Last night, the agency’s latest version was making the rounds after someone leaked it. The new language was first reported by The New York Times.

Tomorrow morning, the Science Committee is set to hear from a senior EPA official, scientists and public health experts on the “secret science” rule.

The rulemaking, an old idea resurrected by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, would prevent the agency from using research that was not publicly available.

Last month, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested the agency would pump the brakes on issuing the final rule this year and instead release a supplemental proposal to clarify the plan (Greenwire, Sept. 19).

Formally known as “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” the idea has incited controversy on Capitol Hill.

Wheeler has maintained that greater visibility in federal rulemaking would strengthen regulations and enhance public support.

Critics, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, charge it would curb the information necessary to draft meaningful environmental regulations.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy, last night said the new language is more expansive than what EPA originally put forth.

“The proposal is even worse than I expected,” he said. “It doesn’t just restrict the science that EPA can use to institute new rules — it works retroactively, allowing political appointees at the agency to topple standards that have worked for decades to deliver clean air and clean water.”

Schedule: The hearing is Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.

Witnesses:

  • Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA principal deputy assistant administrator for science, Office of Research and Development.
  • Linda Birnbaum, scientist emeritus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
  • Mary Rice, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School.
  • David Allison, dean, School of Public Health, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • Brian Nosek, co-founder and executive director, Center for Open Science.
  • Todd Sherer, CEO, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.